Proximate Cause

Last week, Division One of the Court of Appeals held that a bar was not liable for injuries its patron caused after a night of drinking. Torres v. JAI Dining Servs. (Phoenix) Inc., 2020 Ariz. App. LEXIS 673 (July 16, 2020). This was an appeal after a jury verdict of $2,000,000 to the beneficiaries in a wrongful death lawsuit. The jury found the bar 40% at fault.

The court held the chain of causation was broken because the customer had actually made it home safely, had gone to sleep, and hours later awoke to take one of his girlfriend’s friends home. It was during this drive when he collided with the rear of a vehicle stopped at a light killing its two occupants. The court focused on proximate cause. While stating that it is generally a question of fact for the jury, “courts are required to act as gatekeepers in determining the outer parameters of proximate causation.”


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